A man who encouraged Trail businesses to tell city council how they felt about a proposed permit extension for the downtown homeless shelter is now running for office himself.
Donovan Brown lives in Fruitvale, but is a landlord of Trail properties and has worked at Teck for 16 years.
He says the state of downtown Trail has become a matter of great concern to him and his tenants. When he heard council was considering whether to renew the shelter’s permit for up to three years, he emailed friends and went around town with a flyer encouraging concerned business owners unhappy with the situation to contact council.
“Nobody wants to see people left out to freeze. They just recognize it’s creating a dangerous, unhealthy, unsafe environment for customers and employees alike. And the businesses themselves are losing business. It’s been really detrimental to their ability make a living.”
Council later voted 5-1 to extend the shelter’s permit for one year while another temporary location is found somewhere outside downtown.
Brown says he was happy with the decision, calling it a “fair compromise.” But he doesn’t think the city requires a year-round, 24-hour shelter and that an extreme weather shelter would be “sufficient, helpful, and necessary.”
“I stand strongly that these people are being enabled. It’s not just a homeless problem but a drug addiction problem, a crime problem, with drug dealing right there out there in the open. These people need real assistance, real programs to help them get off drugs.”
Brown says his decision to run for council was prompted by the discussion over the shelter. Some of what he heard from BC Housing bothered him, calling it “a lot of politics that drives me nuts. They’re not solving the problem. It really doesn’t address the core issue.”
Brown says building more beds won’t end homelessness, which he blames on “undermining of the family unit, which is the foundation of a strong society … Something bad is happening with our young ones. They turn to drugs, they end up on the street, and are left to suffer and wallow in misery. It’s heartbreaking to see them in the alley.”
Brown says the next council will “have their hands full” trying to figure it out.
“I acknowledge it’s going to be a lot of work and not an overnight fix.”